When thinking about media coverage concerning gas prices, how different are the approaches today as compared to 2008 when prices went through similar increases?
Do you really have to ask?
All three broadcast networks together averaged just one story about rising gas prices per day. In contrast, when gas prices rose similarly in 2008, the networks averaged more than one story, per network, per day.
It took 24 days, from Feb. 1 to Feb. 24, for the national average for unleaded gasoline to climb from $3.101 to 3.228. The last comparable period of “eye-popping” gas prices: the 20 days between Feb. 21 and March 11, 2008, when the national average climbed from $3.086 to $3.227.
So the coverage is thinner, but what about who was referenced in the reports?
In 2008, network reporters mentioned “Bush,” the “president” or “government” in gas price reports 15 times more often than in 2011 under President Obama (15 stories to 1). A number of stories portrayed Bush as out-of-the-loop when asked about the possibility of $4 gas and hadn’t yet heard that prediction.
In contrast to the 15 reports referencing the Bush when gas prices were “through the roof,” the only 2011 story to mention Obama has been NBC “Nightly News” on Feb. 24, when Tom Costello quoted Obama as being “optimistic.”